‘His Dark Materials’ Season 1: Episodic Recap And Ending, Explained – Why Is The Magisterium Looking For Asriel?

A parallel world where every human’s soul has an animal form, a daemon, that lives with them; an orthodox ruling organization that controls the world; a mysterious substance responsible for humanity’s sin; a place where children are severed from their daemons; a piece of equipment that tells the truth; and a 13-year-old girl. Based on Philip Pullman’s novel, “His Dark Materials,” Season 1 sets up an alternate mystical world of magic, one that is “both like and unlike our own.”


The first season builds up the world of “His Dark Materials” and introduces the characters steadily. It is more like an introduction to all that remains to be explored, including a city in the Aurora Borealis, among other parallel worlds. This is not to say that there is no plot, as there is one, but it isn’t as confusing as it seems. While there are many characters, the season 1 plot revolves around three people, Lyra, Lord Asriel, and Miss Marisa Coulter. Here’s an episode-wise recap of the first season.

Spoilers Ahead


Episode 1

The Great Flood has hit, and Lord Asriel leaves baby Lyra and her daemon Pan in the care of Dr. Carne, one of the headmasters at Jordan College, Oxford. Twelve years pass, and Lyra is 13 years old now. She loves adventure and isn’t afraid of scaling the heights of Jordan College, often accompanied by her best friend, Roger. Somewhere in the Far North, Asriel has been carrying out his experiments and discovering Dust, a physical particle. He also photographs a city that is visible in the Northern Lights. He believes that these are enough to prove what he believes is true to the scholars at Jordan College. He also has a frozen severed head as proof of his discoveries and his discoveries.

During one of her classes at Jordan College, Lyra is told by Pan that her uncle Asriel is back. She traverses rooftops to reach a window outside the retiring room, where her uncle will be any minute. However, she sees Master Carne pouring what seems to be poison into a bottle of liquor that her uncle favors. After Master Carne leaves, Asriel enters and is about to take a sip of the liquor when Lyra jumps into the room and pushes the glass away from his mouth, which falls and shatters. As taken aback as he is, Asriel tells Lyra to spy on him as he gives his presentation on “Dust” to the Masters. At the presentation, it is clear that the Masters are not at all happy with what Asriel has to say about Dust, Stanislaus Grumman’s expedition, during which the man went missing, and the city in the Northern Lights that is proof of the existence of other worlds. It is heresy, and thus blasphemy, to the Magisterium, the organization that controls this world. After much persuasion and the warning of a war that is coming, Asriel receives approval for funding for further experimentation from the Masters. However, Asriel knows that his words will reach the Magisterium very soon, so he has to get back to the North as soon as possible. Asriel leaves without Lyra, who is now determined to head to the North as well. The Magisterium finds out about Asriel’s research, and thus Father MacPhail tells Lord Boreal to find out more about Asriel and his experiments. However, he tells Boreal to make sure that Miss Marisa Coulter doesn’t find out about the mission.


A Gyptian child named Bill Costa is kidnapped, which is one of the many child kidnappings that have already taken place. The Gyptians know that it is the Gobblers who are responsible, and they have to find out where the children are before more of them are taken. The King of the Western Gyptians, John Faa, and his advisor, Farder Coram, believe that the children have been taken to London. Miss Marisa Coulter arrives at Jordan College in all her glory, and Lyra falls for it. Coulter is everything Lyra wants to be, and she is overwhelmed when Coulter asks her to be her assistant in London. She also promises Lyra to take her to The North in the future. Coulter agrees to take Lyra’s best friend, Roger, as well. Master Carne calls Lyra and gives her the alethiometer, a compass-like device that tells the truth. He doesn’t trust Miss Coulter, so he tells her not to reveal it to Coulter, or anyone else for that matter. It is almost time to leave, but Lyra is unable to find Roger. She tells Miss Coulter that Roger is missing, and Coulter promises to find him once they reach London. Lyra tries to use the alethiometer to find Roger but is unable to do so. She finally boards Miss Coulter’s airship that’s heading to London. So are the boats of the Gyptians. Somewhere else, Roger is trapped in a cage behind a vehicle.

Episode 2

Roger finds Bill Costa at a Gobbler facility where the other kidnapped children are also imprisoned. A Gyptian team led by John Faa tracks down the location of this facility and breaches it but finds no one or nothing else other than Bill Costa’s cardigan. They bring it back to Bill’s mother, Ma Costa, who is worried sick. Seeing his mother’s pain, Tony, Bill’s elder brother, decides to look for Billy, accompanied by his friend Benjamin de Ruyter.


While Lyra is no less than stupefied at the grandeur of Miss Coulter’s world in London, Coulter’s tastes are very different from hers. Coulter wants Lyra to be just as she wants. She is dressed “properly” for occasions and is taught about the sciences by Coulter herself. During one of her classes, she mentions Dust to Coulter but lies to her about how she came to know about it. Later on, The Magisterium’s Father MacPhail visits Coulter to warn her of her activities that are getting a lot of attention, saying that if they continue, she will receive no support from the organization. This conversation is heard by Lyra, but she gets caught. In anger and a complete loss of composure, Coulter spills the beans to Lyra, telling her that Asriel is not her uncle but her father. One night, Lyra sneaks into Coulter’s study through the vents against her orders after Pan hears movement in the walls. She finds Coulter’s daemon in the study and is perplexed, as daemons need to stay close to their humans at all times. Coulter, however, disregards Lyra’s experience as the fault of her slumber. The next time Coulter is away, she heads back to the study and comes across documents and plans with the words “General Oblation Board.” She later on, finds out from a journalist at a party thrown by Coulter that the General Oblation Board is, in fact, Gobbler. Lyra manages to escape from the building with Pan and her alethiometer while the journalist is caught.

Lord Boreal is at Jordan College and, after a heated discussion with Master Carne, heads to check on Stanislaus Grumman’s skull, only to find that it is not Grumman. He arrives at our world’s Oxford (the modern world) using a portal and meets his contact, Thomas. He tells Thomas to find out more about Stanislaus Grumman, intending to find out how Grumman was able to cross worlds. After returning back to his world, he kills the journalist who was caught talking to Lyra, under Coulter’s orders. Night falls, and Lyra sits down by a doorway, feeling lost and helpless. During one of the moments, Pan notices a daemon, but before Lyra can pull Pan away from walking towards it, she is taken by a gobbler.


Episode 3

Lyra is rescued by Lord Faa’s men. Lyra is brought back to the Gyptians, where Ma Costa, Bill’s mother, gladly takes her in, teaching her how to cook and having fun out of it. But happiness seems to be an occasional episode in an endless drama of distress as the Magisterium sends its guards to the Gyptian boats to look for Lyra. They are unable to find her and leave, thanks to Ma Costa, who hides her in a strategic spot. After the Gyptian boats halt for rest, Lyra decides to leave on her own, telling Ma Costa that all she is for them is a threat. This is when Ma Costa reveals to Lyra that Miss Coulter is Lyra’s mother. This is the reason why Coulter is in a desperate search for her. She was born after Coulter fell in love with her husband Edward’s brother Asriel. Later on, at a debate headed by Lord Faa, it is mutually decided that the Gyptians will head north to Trollesund, where their children are being held. But Tony cannot wait for that long and so decides to head to Coulter’s place after finding out from Lyra about the General Oblation Board’s plans that she saw in Coulter’s study. He and Benjamin breach Coulter’s study, but neither of them isn’t lucky enough to escape without getting spotted.

Boreal returns to our world to meet Thomas and see if he has found anything. Thomas tells him that Stanislaus Grumman goes by the name of John Parry. He traveled from our world to the other side. He also has a wife with mental issues and a son. Thomas hands Boreal all the details about the Parry family. Miss Coulter arrives at Jordan College in search of Lyra and tears the place apart. After coming across books about the study of the alethiometer, she asks Master Carne about it. He tells her that Lyra came to him with it, and he returned it to her when she left. Coulter leaves the place enraged. Later on, at her home, she sets forth two spy flies to locate Lyra wherever she is. Lyra, who is in one of the boats, manages to use the alethiometer and comes to know that Benjamin is dead. She rushes out to inform Farder Coram about it. Within a few minutes, Farder Coram notices two spy flies and manages to trap one of them. The other one flew away. He realizes that they were sent by Coulter, and the one that has escaped will inform her of Lyra’s location. Back at Coulter’s place, Benjamin is caught by her but jumps off the elevator shaft and sacrifices himself before she can force him to reveal anything about the Gyptians. Tony escapes and returns to the boats with a piece of paper that has the names of all the kidnapped children. Billy’s name is on it too. He tells John Faa, Farder Coram, and Ma Costa that Benjamin is dead. Lyra was thus right. She now knows how to use the alethiometer. The spy fly that survived returns to Coulter and informs her of Lyra’s location. John Faa sets the course for Trollesund.


Episode 4

The Gyptian boats arrive at Trollesund. Farder Coram tells Lyra that he and John Faa intend to reach out to the witches for help in their mission to find the children. To do this, Coram and Lyra approach Dr. Martin Lanselius, a member of the witches’ council, and request that he contact Serafina Pekkala. Many years ago, Farder had a son with Serafina, who died during an epidemic. Serafina’s anger and Farder’s grief tear the two apart, but Farder still loves Serafina all the same. After Lyra passes Dr. Martin Lanselius’s test, he gives her a sprig to contact Serafina when she is in need. He also tells them to find Iorek Byrnison, an armored bear. Lyra and Farder approach Iorek, who is no longer in possession of his armor and isn’t willing to offer help. Later on, Farder and John Faa are approached by Serafina’s daemon, who directs them toward Bolvangar, the place where the children are being held. Serafina has agreed to help the Gyptians in their mission. Farder also tells John of Lyra’s significance and her ability to deduce answers from her alethiometer. Lyra is the one on whom the destinies of the world depend, as is prophesied.

Aeronaut Lee Scoresby arrives at Trollesund looking for his old friend Iorek Byrnison, to whom he owes a debt. He meets Lyra and Farder, who are also looking for Iorek, but they don’t tell him why. He finds Iorek, but Iorek isn’t in the mood to talk to his friend either and tells him to leave. Lee then goes and talks to Sysselman, head of the local police, to find out about Iorek’s armor that they have confiscated. Lee leaves after realizing that Sysselman’s mouth has been sealed tight by the more powerful people.


After failing to persuade John Faa to let Iorek join them on their mission, Lyra reaches out to Lee again, who tells her just how important Iorek’s armor is to him. She then heads to the scrapyard, as it is the only place that has the chance of having Iorek search there for his armor. She and Pan meet Iorek there and promise to bring him to his armor if he agrees to help them. Iorek agrees, and Lyra uses her alethiometer to find the armor’s location, i.e., the cellar of the oratory. Iorek recovers his armor and takes down Sysselman’s team but is prevented from killing Sysselman by Lyra. After much persuasion, this time, John Faa allows Iorek, as well as Lee, to join the Gyptians on their mission to Bolvangar.

Miss Coulter’s raid on Jordan College didn’t go down well with The Magisterium, who had called for her. The Cardinal tells her that she will no longer be the head of the General Oblation Board and will be replaced by Father MacPhail. Coulter is against the demotion and tells the Cardinal that she has captured Asriel with assistance from armored bears led by their King, Iofur Raknison. She wants to go to the North to complete her unfinished work in Bolvangar. She also demands the use of Magisterium’s alethiometer. She intends to find out who Lyra really is, which means that she knows about the prophecy as well. With The Magisterium bent on stopping Asriel from researching Dust, Cardinal has no option but to agree to Coulter’s demands. Furthermore, Boreal also threatens Fra Pavel, the Magisterium’s alethiometer specialist, by revealing his sexual preferences to the body unless he uses the equipment to tell Boreal where he can find what Grumman discovered. But while Lyra can use the alethiometer within minutes, for a normal person like Fra Pavel, searching for an answer will take weeks. Coulter arrives at Svalbard in the North and meets King Iofur Raknison. She had helped him dethrone Iorek and claim the throne. In return, Iofur captured Asriel. Now, Coulter offers Iofur a position at The Magisterium, the first of its kind for a bear, in exchange for keeping Asriel alive but destroying his research on Dust. Iofur agrees.


Episode 5

The Gyptians set up camp at a distance from Bolvangar. John Faa asks Lyra to ask her alethiometer about how their enemies are defending the station. She uses it and finds out that a company of Tartars is guarding the station. The alethiometer also seems to be warning her of a ghost at a village in the next valley. Lyra says about it to Farder and that she feels the need to go and visit the spot. Farder isn’t content with it and tells her that the Gyptians need her more than ever now that they are so close to Bolvangar and freeing the children. Lyra then goes and talks to Ma Costa, who tells her that she needs time to think about it before making a decision. Later that night, Lyra and Ma Costa find out from Serafina’s daemon that Asriel is being held by King Iofur at the behest of the Magisterium, but he is letting him continue his research on Dust. Serafina comes to meet Farder and tells him that Asriel has the right to do what he’s doing. Farder asks for her help in rescuing the children. The next day, John Faa finally agrees to let Lyra go to the village she has been talking about. She will be traveling with Iorek. When they reach the village, they find that it is dark and empty. Iorek senses that something is wrong. Lyra and Pan slowly make their way toward the door that her alethiometer showed her. She opens it and enters the hut, where she finds Bill Costa in an unconscious state. His daemon is missing. They bring him back to the gyptian camp, where Ma Costa has been waiting for her son’s return. Bill dies in her arms with his brother Tony by his side. Surrounded by the gyptians, Ma Costa lights her younger son’s pyre, weeping.

Will Parry, son of John Parry, is the other half of the prophecy, whose destiny is bound to that of Lyra. He and his mother, Elaine, are being tracked by Boreal, who is bent on finding out more about John. Thomas has told him that Elaine still receives monthly deposits in John’s name. He meets Elaine disguised as John’s old friend Charles Latrom, but she doesn’t recognize him and keeps to herself. She knows more about her husband than Boreal, thanks to John’s letters hidden in her closet. It is past midnight when hunters from Bolvangar attack the gyptian camp and abduct Lyra. They bring her to the station, where tests will be run on her. She gives Dr. Cooper a different name, Lizzie Brooks, out of caution. Cooper sends Lyra for immediate processing. As Sister Clara gives Lyra new clothes before she can undergo the treatment, she recognizes that the suits are exactly like the ones Billy Costa was wearing when she found him. Lyra and Pan are struck with fear. They are at Bolvangar.


Episode 6

At the station, after Lyra’s primary tests are over, she is brought to a room where all the kidnapped children are having their meal. There she sees Roger and breathes a sigh of relief. Pan tells her that though Roger isn’t hurt, he and his daemon Salcilia have been through a lot. That’s when another girl, Bridget McGinn, is called for by Dr. Cooper. She is taken to the intercision chamber, where the bond between her and her daemon will be severed forever. This is what the station is built for. Later on, Lyra is called in for more “sophisticated” measurements by Dr. Rendal. Lyra asks Rendal if he is looking for Dust. Seeing that Rendal is unnerved by the question, Lyra changes the topic. She returns to be with the other children when the fire alarm goes off (as a result of the interception machine being turned on). All the children are having their names called for checking. This is when Lyra talks to Roger and tells him that help is on the way. Roger tells her that there is no way out. Lyra decides to opt for distraction to figure out a way. She starts throwing snowballs at the other kids, and the whole place turns into a snowball fight club. Lyra and Roger use the distraction to run and look for a way to escape. They come across a room where daemons are stored in cages. They also find Bill Costa’s daemon. This is when Lyra tells Roger that Bill is dead. Both then find another room full of severely injured children. They are in the same state as Bill was when Lyra found him. They chalk out a plan. The next time Roger hears the fire alarm, it will be his sign to gather all the children and prepare to fight. Meanwhile, Miss Coulter is about to make her arrival at the station.

The girls hide Lyra after she reveals to them that she is Coulter’s daughter so that Coulter doesn’t find her. However, it is Lizzie Brooks’ turn for the intercision. She is dragged into the chamber and put inside the machine, despite yelling to the doctors and nurses that she is Coulter’s daughter. She yells to her mother, and that’s when Coulter walks into the chamber and, realizing that it is Lyra, rushes to turn the machine off. She takes Lyra to her room and tries to make her understand that she will never hurt her. She then asks Lyra for the alethiometer. Lyra gives her a soldered tin box. Coulter opens it using a knife, only to be distracted by the spy fly that comes out of it (caught by Farder at the end of Episode 5). Lyra makes use of the situation to escape the room and locks her mother in. She then hits the alarm as a sign for Roger, who then heads to the severed children’s room and persuades them to join him in escaping the place and returning to their families.


Lyra returns to the chamber and turns all the switches on. The machine overloads and blows up. The gyptians have arrived as well, along with Iorek and Lee. The gyptians kill all the guards, thanks to an assist by Serafina Pekkala. Lee, Iorek, Lyra, and Roger set forth in Lee’s airship on the way to Asriel’s location to free him. Ma Costa and John Faa begin their journey back home, taking all the stricken children and daemons along. Coulter manages to come out of the locked room using a vent, but the whole place is empty by then. She is enraged. On the way to Asriel’s location, Lee is told by Serafina that Lyra is of great significance for many worlds, and he needs to be responsible for her. Later on, the ship is attacked by cliff goblins, gargoyle-like creatures. While trying to fight them off, Lyra falls off the airship and into the abyss.

Episode 7

Lyra survives her fall from Lee’s airship. She is found by King, one of King Iofur Raknison’s guard bears. This means that she is in Svalbard. She is put in prison, where she finds a guy named Jotham Santelia, who tells her that her father, Asriel, is at Svalbard working on Dust. She tells one of the guards bears that she demands to see King Iofur. Upon meeting him, she tells him that she is Iorek’s daemon. Upon being asked why she can survive so far from Iorek; she tells him that she is a witch’s daemon. However, she wants to be Iofur’s daemon, but that won’t be possible until Iofur defeats Iorek in one-on-one combat. After proving her powers by secretly using the alethiometer, she is able to gain Iofur’s trust, and he prepares for battle.


Lyra receives Iorek at the entrance to Iofur’s cave and tells him what she has done. Iorek gladly fights Iofur and kills him, claiming all his guards, who are now under Iorek’s command. Lyra earns the name Lyra Silvertongue from Iorek due to her bravery and intelligence. Iorek then takes Lyra to where Roger has been hiding after falling off Lee’s airship alone with Iorek. Lyra uses her alethiometer to find that Lee’s ship is wrecked, but he is safe. Somewhere else, Lee is approached by Serafina, who tells him that his role is not yet over.

Miss Coulter is told by Father MacPhail to go back home. The disasters at Bolvangar and Svalbard have rendered her actions useless. The Magisterium is heading to the North to kill Asriel once and for all. Yet again, Coulter manages to seduce MacPhail into taking her to the North by telling him that she knows how Asriel functions. MacPhail lets her join for the trip but reminds her that her husband needs to die.


Boreal is in Will Parry’s world (our world) and is done with waiting. He even tries to scare Elaine into telling him about John’s letters (Boreal finds out about John’s letters from a TV interview) that will help him with more intel on John’s experiments and if he is still alive. Elaine, though shaken, doesn’t have anything to offer and believes that her husband has been dead for many years now. Later on, Boreal tells Thomas and another pale-faced guy to search the Parry residence for the letters. Elaine rushes to Will, who is at school, and tells him about her experience. Will believes her and returns home with her, only to find it ransacked. Scared, Will leaves his mother at his coach’s place and goes back home to recover the letters. He finds them in his mother’s closet, but before he can leave, Thomas and the pale-faced guy return to search for the letters again. Will, a boxing trainee, hits Thomas by surprise, and he dies after falling off the railing of the floor above. Will escapes before the other guy can find him. Realizing that he cannot risk going back to his mother, he decides to go away, keeping his father’s letters safe in his backpack. Iorek brings Lyra and Roger to Asriel’s lab and drops them in front of it. Asriel freaks out when he sees Lyra, exclaiming that he didn’t send for her, but his expression changes to one of relief when he sees Roger. He seems to be glad that Roger has come and ordered food and a warm bath for the two kids. How Asriel keeps staring at Roger seems to tell Lyra that she might have been wrong in bringing Roger there.

Episode 8

Lyra confronts her father, Asriel, about why he lied to her. She is both angry and heartbroken when he denies taking the alethiometer that she carried all the way for him. After hearing him say that he never called himself a father, Lyra takes the alethiometer and walks away. Asriel tells his assistant Thorold that he has found the ultimate enemy in the sky, and he has to go after it. He will be leaving soon. Meanwhile, the Magisterium is already on its way to them. He thus tells Thorold to keep Lyra safe. Later, when Roger and Lyra are sleeping, Asriel wakes her up, intending to enlighten her about Dust. He tells her that Dust is an elementary particle that can be assessed, but it isn’t sinning, which is something that both the Magisterium and Miss Coulter think. Asriel intends to cross to the city in the sky to find out the true purpose and meaning of Dust. He also mentions how there is a huge release of energy when the link between a human and a daemon is severed. Fra Pavel tells Boreal what the alethiometer told him about Stanislaus Grumman, i.e., that Grumman discovered a knife that is surrounded by angels, and his son will lead Boreal to it. Is Will then the son of Stanislaus Grumman? Be that as it may, Boreal is distraught upon finding out from the pale-faced guy (of our modern world) that Will has escaped and his whereabouts are unknown. Boreal orders him to find the boy as soon as possible.


Lyra is woken up from sleep by Thorold. Being unable to find Roger and Thorold having told her that Roger has left with Asriel, she realizes the worst. Asriel will be severing Roger from his daemon to produce energy so that he can build a bridge to the city of Aurora. Lyra calls for Iorek and tells him about Asriel. They head in Asriel’s direction. Coulter, MacPhail, and the Magisterium breach reach Asriel’s lab. Coulter compels Thorold to tell her about Asriel’s plan with Dust. Lyra, Iorek, and the other bears are attacked midway by Magisterium airships. Iorek takes Lyra to the mountain where Asriel is amid all the firing and destruction of the war.

‘His Dark Materials’ Season 1: Ending Explained – Does Lyra Stop Asriel From Killing Roger?

At the top of the mountain, Asriel has already put Roger and his daemon in cages and is about to begin the intercision process. Just as Lyra could reach Roger’s cage, Asriel turned the machine on. The tether of life between Roger and his daemon is severed. The force throws Lyra off her feet. A huge release of energy goes up and hits the Aurora Borealis, which turns into a portal. Before Asriel could enter it, he was stopped by Coulter. Asriel wants her to join him, but she tells him that she has to be where her daughter is. Asriel steps into the portal, vanishing into the light. Lyra hides and waits for her mother to leave before heading up again. She brings out Roger’s lifeless body from inside the cage, weeping and apologizing to him. Pan tells Lyra that to make sure that Roger’s death doesn’t go in vain, they have to find out what Asriel has in mind. For this, they have to cross the portal. Will Parry has been avoiding the police, who have all been given his physical description by the pale-faced guy (a cop himself). Parry makes his way into a park, trying to hide from two cops coming in his direction. Inside the park, he finds a door to what seems to be another world.


“His Dark Materials” Season 1 ends with Lyra walking into the world in front of her, just as Will walks into his. We do not know what lies ahead for Lyra and Pan. Also, Will stepping into Lyra’s world will have consequences, especially when the Magisterium finds out about him as well as Boreal. Miss Coulter will look for her daughter, but there is no chance of finding her; it seems as though she has crossed over to another world. Lee, Iorek, John Faa, and Farder Coram might be able to help Will when they come across him. This is because Serafina’s daemon has already mentioned a boy whose destiny is bound to Lyra’s.

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Shubhabrata Dutta
Shubhabrata Dutta
Shubhabrata’s greatest regret is the fact that he won’t be able to watch every movie and show ever made. And when he isn’t watching a movie or a show, he is busy thinking about them and how they are made; all while taking care of his hobbies. These include the usual suspects i.e. songs, long walks, books and PC games.

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